I think it's fair to say that if I like one of your books, I will be back for more. I loved The Life You've Imagined by Kristina Riggle. When I saw the e-mail about an opportunity to take part in a blog tour with her latest book, Things We Didn't Say, I was eager to participate. I didn't even know what the book was about, but I knew I wanted to read it.
Do you ever walk around with bottled up feelings? I'm sure we all do. The family in Things We Didn't Say is no different.
Casey, a 26-year-old recovering alcoholic, is trying to fit into her fiance Michael's ready-made family. Jewel, the baby of the family, gets along with Casey because she hasn't reached the level of teenage angst her older brother and sister, Dylan and Angel, have. Casey has a past, one that she feels is worth keeping from Michael. She feels responsible for the death of her brother, which results in her being distant from her entire family. A family that Michael has never met. Why? Why not speak up about your past? Why not let your fiance form a connection with your family? Her family connections are reduced to phone calls with her mother. All of those bottled up feelings come to a head when Angel reads Casey's diary. Angel thinks Casey hates her, and that Casey doesn't want her father to know about the secrets in her past. Casey decides to run away, but that is aborted when Dylan goes missing. Would Casey have felt the need to run from her problems, if not for Dylan's disappearance? Would Casey have felt the need to run, if she had been honest?
Is keeping quiet worth the price of potentially losing her relationship? Casey thinks so because she's not truly one of them.
"Both Angel and Mallory have whitish-blond hair, bookending Michael's darker complexion. They all have those same bright marble-blue eyes, reminding me of their unbreakable bond, which I can never share."
Casey was close to Dylan at the start of her relationship with Michael, but like a lot of teenagers he became distant. A distance that his mother Mallory blames on Casey. Everything is Casey's fault in Mallory's world. Despite Mallory being a bit of a wackadoo, Casey is always wrong. Dylan changed his behavior, it's Casey's fault. Dylan doesn't talk to a friend anymore, it's Casey's fault. Poor Michael is caught in the middle. He always feels like he has to choose. Mallory is unstable, but Casey is his fiance. His non-action at times causes distance with Casey. Do they talk? Do they work it out? No. Casey's solution, go outside, smoke a cigarette and stew on the porch. Michael's solution, focus on finding Dylan and the other problems will solve themselves.
Not speaking is a family trait. Dylan runs away with a girl he met online, and immediately thinks it's a mistake. But is admitting a mistake failure?
"I wonder if this is how my dad felt when he married my mom, realizing he'd just made a huge mistake but it's not like he can just erase it and start over."
They can't go back, but it's hard to move forward. Each chapter is told in a different voice. With Casey, you can see how she fears being discovered. Michael has to worry about not just his family, but his job. Jewel is hopeful and naive. Angel is full of teenage angst. Dylan is unsure of his decisions. The book captures how alcohol and mental illness can fracture a family. But lack of communication can cause just as many problems.
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a tour with TLC Book Tours. For more information on author Kristina Riggle, visit http://www.kristinariggle.net/